SAIC's Rowe 750 will be followed by smaller new saloon
1 May 2007

Shiny-new Chinese nameplate Roewe is heading to the UK in 2009 with two saloon models and a new dealer network.Roewe, as you might remember, is the name dreamed-up by Chinese car-maker SAIC to badge the models it bought from the receiver of defunct MG Rover after failing to secure rights to the Rover name.Despite this set-back SAIC, and a team of former Rover engineers, have been forging ahead with a new model plan and unveiled the Focus-sized WS saloon concept alongside the Rover 75 stretch and re-hash, the Roewe 750, at April’s Shanghai motor show.Both models are being engineered for right-hand drive and are planned to be launched together in 2009. Left-hand drive models for Europe will come earlier, possibly in early 2008.Also in the pipeline are a light re-fresh of the Rover 25 and Streetwise, prototypes of both being spotted testing in China. UK launch dates of both these models are as-yet unconfirmed.The well-resolved Roewe WS concept is understood to be based on a cut-down Rover 75 platform, technology that was planned by BMW to underpin the Rover RD60, the stillborn mid-size hatchback replacement for the Rover 45.Roewe’s sales distribution plan is currently being put together around at least two options. One is to piggyback the UK dealers of Ssangyong, the Korean 4x4-maker owned by SAIC, the second is to set-up a entirely new network run by an independent distributor.Dutch company Kroymans, responsible for Cadillac and Corvette in the UK, are rumoured to be one of the possible new distributors in competition with Ssangyong’s dealers.However Ken Forbes, managing director of Ssangyong UK, is optimistic that his 60 dealers – soon to grow to 75 – will win the business.“We will have a number of Roewe cars available, all with good quality styling and interiors and aggressively priced,” said Forbes, “and we want to distribute them.”The Ssangyong network would give Roewe an instant entry to the UK market with strong geographical coverage from day one, new car sales experience, service facilities and used car business.

Julian Rendell

We've already driven the Roewe 750's Chinese rival, the NAC MG7. Come back to Autocar.co.uk on 2 May to read our first impressions at the wheel.

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